Monday, December 07, 2009
The 29-Day Giving Challenge
Pain, whether physical or emotional, is one of those things that either brings out the best in us or beats us to pulp. Some people turn to religion. Others immerse themselves in activity. Still others retreat inside.
What most Americans would not do, I venture to say, is consult a South African medicine woman--which is exactly what 36-year old Cami Walker did.
Diagnosed four years ago with multiple sclerosis, Ms. Walker suffered from depression. Her illness was putting a strain on her new marriage. For a time, she even lost the use of her hands and vision in one eye.
That’s when she turned to holistic healer Mbali Creazzo. “You’ve got to stop focusing on the problem,” Ms. Walker says Creazzo told her. “You’re feeding the disease.”
Creazzo’s prescription? A month of giving. 29 gifts in 29 days.
Ms. Walker decided she had nothing to lose by taking Creazzo's advice. She gave clothes to Goodwill, cooked dinner for her husband, brought a book to a friend. Simple gifts. One a day. After two weeks of focusing on others instead of herself, Ms. Walker claims she had a deep psychic shift. Then one day she realized she was no longer using her cane to walk.
Ms.Walker has now written a book about her experience: 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. She's also started an organization called 29 Gifts, a global giving movement with over 7000 members in 38 countries. Hoping to change the world one gift at a time has given this Los Angeles woman a profound sense of purpose.
Which brings me to what Ms. Walker's story has to do with late blooming and encore careers:
According to Joanna Barsh, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, and Susie Cranston, a McKinsey organization consultant, co-authors of How Remarkable Women Lead, psychologists have discovered that people who have a deep sense of meaning about what they do are happier, more energized and more resilient than those who do not. And when an overarching goal is big enough and meaningful enough, it can foster persistence and make decades of hard work completely worthwhile.
Want to hear Ms. Walker's story in her own words? Here's a clip of her on the Today show: